Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Insight Into the Life of an Infertile Person

To start out with it needs to be said that the infertile person is really going through the grieving process. Some people may look at them and think “what’s their problem, they haven’t lost a (child, spouse, parent, etc.) No, they haven’t lost a specific person, but they have lost a dream and their innocence. They are realizing that what they were taught in health class all those years ago isn’t working for them. Also instead of being able to deal with one traumatic event and then start to move on, this grief is revisited month after month, year after year. It is a cycle that has no end, they feel like they are stuck on a merry-go-round and they can’t get off no matter how much they want to.

In the book On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross she identifies 5 stages of grieving for those diagnosed with a terminal illness.
These stages are also applied to those going through the death of a loved one. I think these stages also can apply to anyone going through infertility. An infertile person may not go through these stages in this order, they may not even go through a particular stage, they may spend months or years in a particular stage and a short time on another phase. I am thankful to say that I’m finally in the acceptance stage. This doesn’t mean that I’m completely over our infertility, but I can at least deal with it now. Even once a person reaches the acceptance stage they may still have times they will back track through another one. I’ve heard infertility being referred to as an old friend, most of the time you don’t hear from them but every once in awhile they decide to make an appearance, good or bad.

Some other feelings of grief addressed by Dr Roberta Temes in her book Living With an Empty Chair are:
These are feelings that the infertile person could be dealing with along with the other 5 stages of grief. The infertile person lives for what day of their cycle it is. They know what day they are on before they even know what day and month it is. This tends to lead to a feeling of complete disorganization. When they start to only focus on one part of their life, other things quickly tend to suffer. They may not be able to concentrate at work or at home, they may not want to balance their checkbook or clean their house, doing anything outside of something related to achieving pregnancy is put on the backburner. Because of this, then it starts to feel like their whole life is spiraling downwards and they can’t get control over anything. But there is also a part of the infertile person that is so numb from the pain and heartache, they may not care that their house is a wreck and their checkbook is in even worse shape.

Another feeling that the infertile person is dealing with is longing. I don’t like to use the words envy or jealously because those are too strong words for what the person is going through. They long so much to have what they see others having that it hurts. They have a hard time being completely happy for someone who is or has had a baby. They also may have a hard time being happy for someone even when it’s not related to a baby like a wedding or a new home, etc. They look at their life and feel like nothing happy has happened to them, their world is stuck in a heartbreaking cycle, while others are happily moving on with their lives. This is a hard emotion for the infertile person because they don’t want to feel this way. They want to be happy for others, they know the bible says “rejoice with those who rejoice”, but they just can’t seem to move on. There is this part of them that no matter how much they pray or read their bible or try to be happy for others, they can’t. It just takes time for this feeling to go away.

You can see how all of the emotions can make an infertile person feel worse and worse, it appears to be a never ending cycle that they feel they will never regain control of. Some may think that infertile couples just need to get over it and move on. Would you ever tell that to a person who has just lost a loved one? Hopefully not. The same compassion needs to given to those struggling with infertility. They are grieving and they have a right to feel these emotions. They need your support during these times more than ever.

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